Everything you see and experience is filtered through your belief system. Beliefs are your own personalized operating system, like a computer, that unconsciously tells you what is right and what is wrong. Beliefs make it possible for you to see a situation and in a nano-second, feel good or bad about what is happening.
Your spouse walks in with an upset look. Instantly, you feel your heartbeat increase, wondering what you did wrong this time. Someone disagrees with your idea and you react defensively, selling your idea harder than ever. Your emotions and your automatic responses reveal your beliefs that were triggered in that situation. They are unique to you and they are based on your past experiences.
The second principle to living mindfully in the present helps you intentionally bring deeply-held beliefs up into your conscious mind, where you can literally decide to change them in an instant. The result is an awesome release from heavy emotional burdens that are anchored in your unchangeable past.
A liberating experience for me was to change my belief that I needed to have the right answer. Another was my belief that I needed to be a good athlete in order to be accepted by my peers. A third was my belief that if someone was mad at me, I was a bad person. A fourth was that if I let God into my life, He would make me live a miserable life of poverty and being alone.
Beliefs are anchored in your past. They are what makes you feel threatened within your ego. They cause you to feel bad about yourself. To avoid feeling bad, you start making decisions to please or blame others. Either way, you are not true to yourself. One technique for changing your self-limiting beliefs is to do a self-exploratory dialogue:
- What’s happening?
- How do you feel about it?
- Why do you feel that way?
Ask yourself these three questions repeatedly and you will be amazed at the beliefs you will uncover, hidden in your unconscious mind. Beliefs are the plank in our eye, as Jesus called it. “First take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) This is known as the First Rule of Inner Peace. Our beliefs bias our view of our situation, making us spiritually blind. Furthermore, any actions we take only make things worse. This is because beliefs cause us to be judgmental.
The key to living this principle of mindfulness is to notice our judgments and shift to neutral. When we are neutral, we see clearly what we need to do. At that point, we are no longer neutral but we are coming from a place of inner peace, not fear, anxiety and control. Inner peace and healthy relationships are our reward.
Three other techniques for changing your beliefs are detailed in What’s Important Now.